Date of Conferral







Bonnie Mullinix


Despite the increased numbers of women in STEM over the last 2 decades, women are more likely than men to leave a STEM career. It is important to have women’s perspectives within the workplace and to have female role models from different backgrounds to support and encourage female students to move into STEM careers. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to identify how female STEM university leaders perceive the influence of their personal vision and work-life balance on their career commitment. The framework included two concepts: Boyatzis’ ideal self and Poulose and Sudarsan’s work-life balance. The phenomenological design of the study centered on interviews with 14 women from California State Universities. The interview questions were framed by two research questions focusing on how female STEM tenure/tenure-track faculty, department chairs, and deans perceived personal vision and work-life balance influencing their career commitment. Data were coded and organized with a spreadsheet and patterns were grouped into the resulting themes: Doing What They Enjoy, Lady’s Work, Motivation, Always Working, Support for Work-life Balance, and Competitive Culture. Findings were that personal vision and work-life balance are perceived as strengthening career commitment if they are developed, valued, and supported and that work-life balance can influence career commitment, so the balance should also be supported for women in STEM careers. This study contributes to positive social change by informing STEM women on self-advocacy and university administrators on how to support women in STEM careers, possibly increasing the retention of women in STEM careers with hopes that they move into leadership roles.